majorbrusselsxi's Shift 2: Unleashed (Xbox 360) review

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Fast & Furious

After Criterion’s successful take on the Need For Speed franchise with Hot Pursuit, Slightly Mad Studios had big boots to fill for the sequel to their critically acclaimed, Need For Speed Shift. And fill them, they did.

If you ever played Hot Pursuit, you’ll know that it is very arcadey. Don’t go into Shift 2 Unleashed hoping for the same. This time, it’s not about evading the cops, it’s about getting across the finish line first in the cleanest, tidiest manner possible. Think this all sound far too sensible and boring for you? Think again. Never before in a game have I felt  such an amazing sense of speed like in Shift 2. Once you hit the straights, hit the gas, you can go very, very fast. And somehow I feel like I’m going faster than I ever did in Hot Pursuit. The reason for that is beyond me!

Shift 2 has fully licensed cars and all of them look absolutely top-notch. One of the first cars you’ll get is the Lotus Exige and it looks as accurate as ever, and to make your cars appear even more bad-ass, you can even slap on some sweet stickers and vinyls (a bit like Forza 3.) Of course, as in any racing game, race after race can easily get boring. That’s why racing games need variety. That comes in the way of drifting and elimination events in Shift 2. I’ll start off with drifting. It plays a big part in the game and you can’t ignore it. It definitely seems easier to get to grips with than the tough, tight turns of the original Shift. The scoring system can sometimes feel a little in-accurate though. A lot of the time, I felt that the target score was too low (on one event, I actually beat 1st place before I even got onto lap 2.) But sometimes, that’s completely turned around, with it being too difficult, especially on tracks that don’t have many corners. So if you really want to hone your drifting skills, I recommend you take that Monster Energy Ford Mustang of yours for a spin around the playground in quick play until you really master that ‘in-out’ technique. Eliminator races are much as you’d expect. It’s ta-ta time for the racer in last place when the clock gets to zero. These different modes help offer variety and re playability.

Now onto the visuals which are definitely an improvement upon it’s predecessor. Like I’ve already said, cars look 100% accurate and the tracks look as slick and smooth as they should. But where the visuals really kick in are on the spectacular night races. Think your well ahead of the opposition? Take a look behind you to see 7 pairs of bright headlights just ready to take the lead. Still to easy? Head into the new Helmet Cam with small slits for a windscreen. Pretty difficult now, huh? Visuals this good in a racing game are pretty rare.

If you played Hot Pursuit, you probably want to know if the popular Autolog system is still intact, and yes it is. Seeing your friend, (or soon to be rival) beating your time by just a few milliseconds is as infuriating as ever, and it adds plenty of re playability. As long as you have friends that is..?

After last weeks arcadey Motorstorm Apocalypse review, it make Shift 2 Unleashed look more like a simulation. But I think it’s a mix of the two. The drift events help make things a little less sim-like than it otherwise may be, but the 20 lap endurance races help attract the more hardcore type. I thought DiRT3 was going to be racer of the year… well, we will see…

If you feel the Need For Speed, Shift 2 Unleashed gives you that like no other.

The Good:
Night races look great.
- Accurate cars.
- Enjoyable drifting.
- Competitive Autolog system.

The Bad:
- Sometimes in-accurate target scores.
- Competitive Autolog system. (Yes I meant to put it here as well.)

The Ugly:
- …

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